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Boundary Organizations as an Approach to Overcoming Science-Delivery Barriers in Landscape Conservation: A Caribbean Case Study

Kasey R. Jacobs1,4,*, Lia Nicholson1,2, Brent A. Murry1,3, Marixa Maldonado-Román1,4, and William A. Gould1,4

1USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA), International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardín Botánico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba, Río Piedras, PR 00926, USA.
2USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, FIA, National Inventory and Monitoring Applications Center (NIMAC), 11 Campus Boulevard, Suite 200, Newtown Square, PA 19073, USA. 3USDA Forest Service, Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC), 2222 West 2300 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84119 USA. *Corresponding author.

Caribbean Naturalist, Special Issue No. 1 (2016)

Throughout the Caribbean, conservation is ecologically, politically, and socially challenging due to a number of factors including globalization, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the spread of invasive species. Relationships between organizations and institutions that govern the region’s natural and cultural resources are key to conservation success as partners work to implement plans to meet science, capacity, and information needs. However, the complex challenges involved in conservation work and tenuous relationships among organizations can result in a “knowing–doing gap”. Empirical evidence from 130 Caribbean conservation organizations indicates that barriers to bridging this gap are lack of information and data sharing, political constraints, competition, limited resources and technical capacity, and ineffective communications. We suggest that a knowing–doing gap exists in the region and that “boundary organizations” are a solution to overcoming the barriers some conservation entities face. We explore how boundary organizations can use the social sciences and practitioner expertise to successfully become knowledge brokers, and we offer a set of recommendations for implementing our ideas. We conclude by postulating that bridging the knowing–doing gap in resources management could lead to a sustainable future for the Caribbean region.

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